I probably don't have to describe the emotional exhaustion, the hopelessness, and the eternal frustration because burn-out is pretty common (http://www.statista.com/topics/2099/stress-and-burnout/). If you're not feeling burnt out yourself, it's likely that half of your friends could fill you in on what it's like.
But this isn't a post about burn-out. It's a post about puffins.
Normally when I travel, I research everything. But when I ended up in Iceland for a whirlwind business trip, I was completely unprepared. I found myself on top of a plateau overlooking black sand beaches at dusk, and I was astonished to see THOUSANDS of puffins perched on the cliff edge, riding the thermals, grooming each other, and hovering mid-air, wings invisibly flapping.
Puffins, it turns out, flap their wings 400 times per minute (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puffin), which makes them look like little sad-eyed, colorful-beaked, torsos zooming about. Giant clown-faced humming birds. I recorded a little video of my unabashed excitement, but it was automatically deleted by my phone. I wish so fervently that I still had that clip because it captured the exact moment when I fell in love with the world again. (Okay, I found a fragment of a video from that day.)
It's possible that I cried a little bit. It's possible that I hugged a random tourist. It's possible that I watched the birds until it was too dark to see them anymore.
I wouldn't say that my life changed dramatically in that moment, but it reminded me how important it is to see and do new things. And then I ran into this article:
I've noticed that doing new things helps me handle stress and depression better. It makes my world larger and more full of hope and possibility.
If you're struggling right now, I hope that you find your puffin. Iceland should be on your short list--it's spectacular. But if you need something a bit closer to home (and home is within driving distance to Frederick, MD), I humbly offer my blacksmithing lessons.
There is obviously no way that I can claim that blacksmithing treats stress, anxiety, or depression. And there's no way to predict whether you'll fall in love with it like I did. But it's widely believed that exercise helps mental-well-being, and you'll definitely get some exercise swinging a hammer. And you get to make art. And meet me, and I'll tell you all about the puffins in person.